William Lafayette "Will" Totty
A Fallen Soldier of Renown
The pale horse and his rider came swiftly a few days ago and carried the fallen soldier of renown, W. L. Totty, from the stormy battlefield to the land of rest and reward. He was born in Hickman County, Tennessee, March 1, 1903, and died April 29, 1982, after a week of illness in the hospital. Brother Totty's health had been declining for some time, but in the last three months, decline was more rapid.
He was married to the former Daisy Belle Allen. She preceded him in death on January 19, 1975. Survivors include sons David and Bill; brother A.C. and Glen (Pete); sister Nell Weeks, Callie roberts and Dorris Kemp; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Brother Totty was baptized by I.B. Bradley in 1919. He began preaching in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1926 and did not quit until 53 years later when he was unable to continue. For 43 years and three months, he preached in the city of Indianapolis. He preached for the Southside, Garfield Heights and Shelbyville Road congregations. He prepared and delivered his sermons without written notes. We shall not see his like again. He had the ability to quote many chapters from memory. His preaching carried him from Canada to Florida and from West Virginia to Oklahoma. His most notable work came in the defense of the gospel. The number of clashes with the terrorists was about a hundred. The Lord endowed him with a good mind and a heart of courage. He showed no fear nor favor to any man, whether it was a friend or foe. Among his more notable debates were: Totty-Andrews, "Premillennialism," 1938; Totty-Sloan, "Salvation and Apostasy," 1940; Totty-Ketcherside, "Bible Colleges and Orphan Home," 1942; Totty-Welch, "Pentecostalism," 1949, 1951; Totty-Magee, "Godhead," 1960; Totty-Gregory, "Baptism," 1951, 1953, 1954; Totty-Grider, "Orphan Home," 1958, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967.
The services were held at the Shelbyville Road Church of Christ at 1:00p.m. on Saturday, May 1, 1982. The building was almost filled with family and friends who came to pay their respects. Congregational singing was led by James Hackett; prayer, led by Jimmy Thompson; and the writer conducted the services. The pallbearers were the grandsons of W.L. Totty. His final resting place is Forest Lawn Cemetery.
The main points made in the lesson were: (1) the comfort of the scriptures; (2) his works do follow him; and (3) what God says to us in such times. Under the heading "His Works Do Follow Him" there were four main sub-points: (a) he loved the truth; (b) he loved the church; he loved children; and (d) in spite of heartaches which came, he never lost his sense of humor. He sudden to say, "I don't eat anything that grows feathers."
It was an honor bestowed upon me by the family to preach this soldier's funeral. It was nice to know one whose life overlapped with some of the other greats of the restoration movement. He knew A. G. Freed, F.B. Srygley, N.B. Hardeman, G.C. Brewer, H.Leo Boles, B.C. Goodpasture, and many others.
The Shepherd's psalm was read at the gravesite. This was probably one of the first passages of scripture Brother Totty learned when he was a boy. A prayer closed the services.
Certainly W.L. Totty could say, as the apostle Paul, "I have fought a good fight . . ." (2 Timothy 4:7-8.)
-Ben F. Vick, Jr., 4915 Shelbyville Road, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46227, Gospel Advocate, 1982, p.298
A Fallen Soldier Of Renown
(Editor’s Note: W. L. Totty, a faithful servant of the Christ, went home to be with the Lord Thursday, April 29. Brother Totty always encouraged people to follow God until He bids us “stack arms and bask in heaven’s sunlight.” This valiant soldier has now answered that call. His powerful voice and pointed pen ae now resting, but not silenced. We brethren owe a great deal of debt to him for all he did in defense of the truth. The articles that follow are tributes to this great man. I am a better person for having known W. L. Totty. I shall miss him until we be re-united on the other shore.)
The pale horse and his rider came swiftly before the dawn on Thursday, April 29, and carried the old soldier of renown, W. L. Totty, to the land that is fairer than day. He has gone home to join comrades and companion who preceded him in death. Some of his fellow-soldiers who stacked arms before him were: A. G. Freed, F. B. Srygley, N. B. Hardeman, G. C. Brewer, B. C, Goodpasture, Gus Nichols, and others.
Though he cannot return to us (2 Sam. 12:23), yet he, like Abel, “being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). His works, influence, good deeds, and teaching will continue. The beloved John wrote, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Brother Totty is at rest—asleep in Jesus; his works do follow him.
Brother W. L. Totty obeyed the gospel in 1919. From the waters of baptism he came forth, the sword unsheathed from its scabbard and never laid it aside until death 63 years later. He was a soldier of the cross that was valiant for the truth. He was set for the defense of the gospel as the apostle Paul (Phi. 1:17). God had endowed him with a good mind with which to reason and think quickly. Several persons have related to this scribe incidents of his ability to debate. Along with a good mind, God had blessed him with a heart of courage. He feared no man, and favoritism was not expressed to friend nor foe. This soldier did battle in about 100 debates on various issues. Some of the more notable ones were: Totty-Andrews, “Premillennialism,” 1938; Totty-Sloan, “Salvation and Apostasy,” 1940; Totty-Ketcherside, “Bible Colleges and Orphan Home,” 1942; Totty-Welch, “Pentecostalism,” 1949, 1951; Totty-Magee, “Godhead,” 1960; Totty-Gregory, “Baptism,” 1951, 1953, 1954; Totty-Grider, “Orphan Home,” 1958, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967. He also has moderated for other brethren in debates for the truth.
Brother Totty loved the church. He had preached the gospel for over 50 years. His very first sermon was on the establishment of the church which was made up mostly of quoting Scriptures. His father timed his sermon and it lasted 18 minutes. His first local work began in 1936 at Meaford, Ontario. After about a year of snow, he moved to Indianapolis in 1937 and began with a small group at the Southside congregation. For 43 years and 3 months he preached the gospel in Indianapolis. His last work being here at Shelbyville Road. He held meetings from Canada to Florida and from West Virginia to Oklahoma. His health would not allow him to continue preaching and so he retired in December of ’79. But rain or shine, snow or sleet Brother Totty was faithful in attendance. Many times in the last year he sat in pain throughout the services and always expressed appreciation for the sermon preached.
Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 19:14). Jesus said it and Brother Totty believed it. He loved children. One of his well-known statements around here was, “They’re worth a million dollars an ounce.” This soldier defended the right of the church to support orphans through the treasury. He believed and practiced James 1:27 and Galatians 6:10. His contribution to Potter Home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was sizeable every year. Who will help make up the difference now? He also left Potter a sizeable amount in his will. The Potter Home and others like it have lost a good friend. Brother Totty used to always carry candy or change for the little children at church services.
In spite of the heartaches and heartbreaks which are the common lot of humanity. Brother Totty never lost his sense of humor. Each morning he would make it a point to come in and speak to “the boy” before he began his walking. When he was told it was nice to see him, he would answer, “Well it’s nice to be seen.” In regard to his eating habits, he would say, “I don’t eat anything that grows feathers.” He used to quote Brother Marshal Keeble who said, “I would rather have friends than money.” Then he would pause and say, “If my friends have money.” Concerning the preacher’s work he would repeat the statement of the ignorant who would say, “All he does is just preach.” He would comment, “If they had to prepare one sermon they would understand the work of a preacher.” On various occasions Brother Totty would come in to my study and look at my books and say, “The fountain of knowledge flows through books.” He used to give the janitor a hard time by unplugging the cord to the vacuum cleaner. There was no one that encouraged me more in my work at Shelbyville Road than W. L. Totty. I will miss him.
The following poem was used in his funeral service:
A Soldier of Renown
Fallen—on Zion’s battle-field,
A soldier of renown,
Armed in the panoply of God,
in conflict cloven down.
His helmet on, his armor bright,
His cheek unblanched with fear,
While round his head there gleamed a light
His dying hour to cheer.
Fallen—while cheering with his voice
The sacramental host,
With banners floating on the air—
Death found him at his post.
In sunset years the warfare closed,
But not ingloriously;
He fell beyond the outer wall,
And shouted, victory.
Fallen—a holy man of God,
An Israelite indeed,
A standard-bearer of the cross,
Mighty in word and deed—
A master spirit of the age,
A bright and burning light,
Whose beams across the firmament
Scattered the clouds of night.
Fallen—as sets the sun at eve,
To rise in splendor where
His kindred luminaries shine,
Their heaven of bliss to share.
Beyond the stormy battle-field
He reigns in triumph now,
Sweeping in a harp of wondrous song,
With glory in his brow.
Brother Totty could have said, as did the apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
-Ben F. Vick, Jr., The Beacon, Volume XI, Number 21, May 27, 1982,
Twenty-seven years ago a brother Love who was an elderly gospel preacher then, told me at Kingston, Tennessee that more than 500 gospel preachers were born and reared in Hickman Couny, Tennessee. One of these was W. L. (Will) Totty.
Will Totty proudly told people publicly and privately that he was from Totty's Bend in Hickman County. He was born there March 1, 1903. J. W. McGarvey was born on March 1, 74 years earlier in 1829 at Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Brother Totty's health was poor for several years preceding his death. He died in Indianapolis, Indiana April 29, 1982.
W. L. Totty married Daisy Belle Allen. She preceded him in death January 19, 1975.
Will is survived by two sons, David and Bill; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; two brothers A. C. and Glen; and three sisters, Nell Weaks, Callie Roberts, and Doris Kemp.
KNEW HIM WELL
I knew Will Totty more than a third of a century. I knew him well. He stayed in our home at various times, and I visited in his home.
Will and Daisy Belle were very hospitable. I was never associated with a man who was more polite and courteous than this couple.
Carson Burroughs and I were associated with brother Totty in our mission work in Eastern Kentucky for many years. Because of the influence of him with the Garfield Heights congregation in Indianapolis I was able to get that church to support me and brother Burroughs many years in mission work in Eastern Kentucky. Brother Burroughs preached in a number of gospel meetings where brother Totty was the regular preacher in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has spoken to me a number of times how royally brother Totty and the church always treated him.
HIS WORK AS AN EVANGELIST
Brother Totty was baptized by I.B. Bradley in 1919. He began his preaching career in Nashville, Tennessee in 1926. He preached for more than 50 years. He preached in Indianapolis, Indiana 43 years for Southside, Garfield Heights, and Shelbyville Road congregations. He preached for Garfield Heights Church for a large majority of his 43 years in Indianapolis.
Will Totty was an able debater. He had about 100 debates. It was my privilege to attend several of the debates in which he was engaged.
I moderated for him in a debate he had with A. C. Grider in 1958. Brother Totty had a strong mind. I often said he could have been one of the nation's greatest attorneys.
SENSE OF HUMOR
Brother Totty loved good humor, and he knew a lot of it. I always enjoyed his telling funny stories about amusing people, especially some he related about people in Totty's Bend and Hickman County. He told of an uncle who was very stingy. This uncle would always insist that the wheat thrasher crew would bring the thrasher to his place in an afternoon so they would not be there to eat the noon meal. Will said that one year the crew brought the thrasher in a morning. His uncle said, "You will be through and gone before noon, won't you?" They assured him they would be gone before noon! But after they thrashed wheat awhile, they pretended that the thrasher was broken, and they began to act as though they were trying to repair it. They told Will's uncle they would have to eat the noon meal at his house! The uncle told his wife and she prepared a rather skimpy meal. When the hungry wheat thrashers sat down at the table they soon ate everything and wiped every bowl clean! Whereupon the old uncle said to his wife, "You fixed just enough to the bite."
Brother Totty's funeral service was conducted in the meeting place of Shelbyville Road Church of Christ in Indianapolis at 1:00, May 1, 1982. A large crowd assembled for the memorial service. Congregational singing was directed bv James Hackett. Jimmy Thompson led the prayer. Ben F. Vick, Jr., the regular preacher, preached the sermon. Brother Totty's grandsons were the pallbearers. The body was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Indianapolis. With a multitude of others, I rejoice in the one hope (Ephesians 1:4) and long for the time when ". . . all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28, 29.)
—Basil Overton, World Evangelist, June, 1982, pages 4,5,
Directions To The Grave Of W.L. Totty
W.L. and Daisy B. Totty are buried in the Forest Lawn Memory Gardens Cemetery in Greenwood, Indiana. On I-65 take Exit 99, Main St., and head west. Cross Hwy. 31. and continue until you get to Hwy. 135. Turn left (south) and go about a mile. The cemetery will be on your left. Enter the cemetery. Go to the first right (toward the funeral home), but continue bearing to the left around the large section. On the back side of the section you will take your first right. Then take your first left. Go past the raised area on your right (Garden of the Apostles). Just past the wall go into the section, following the wall (raised section). The grave will be up in the section almost to where the raised wall turns to the left, near the corner. See Satellite map below for greater detail. The plotted location is Garden of the Apostles, lot 167D, space 2.
N 39° 35.489' x W -86° 09.257'
Grave Faces To The East
Garden of the Apostles, lot 167D, space 2
Hover Over Green Arrow Below For Specific Location
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In June, 2009 Tom L. Childers, C. Wayne Kilpatrick and Scott Harp traveled about 3000 miles in one week through parts of Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. During this time we found the graves of 75 church leaders in the Restoration Movement. Chronicling these leaders into websites has been time consuming. Many thanks to Tom and Wayne in helping to take photos, share the driving, and putting up with your web master's slave-driving effort to see as many as we did in the time we had. Their photos as well as some of mine are seen on this site.
Another particular interest in the life of W.L. Totty is in the way of his connection to one of the elders where your webeditor preaches. I preach for the Buford Church of Christ, Buford, Georgia. Bob and Helen Conolty have attended Buford a number of years. The Conoltys are from the Hoosier State and attended for years at the Garfield Heights Church of Christ. Bob was baptized into Christ by W.L. Totty. Both he and Helen have wonderful memories of their years under his tutelage. Bob has been an elder in a number of congregations through the years, and has served Buford the last several years in a most wonderful way, a service that greatly speaks of the spiritual heritage they grew in under the influence of W.L. Totty.